IMAGE:  February 2003 GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
Volume 95, Issue 3
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"From encouraging terror to wasting pages"

Greek allegiance
Regarding “Geeks Go Greek” (October/02): as an undergraduate, I lived in Henderson House, a nominal affiliation with one unintended benefit: friendships that came from a fortunate draw in the housing lottery. Henderson expected little of its members, save civility, and did the minimum to engender a sense of community and historical continuity.

Yale students fondly speak of time spent in their specific residential college; Robert Maynard Hutchins, as an alumnus, perhaps shared that sentiment, as might the current Yalie who lives in Hutchins’s old room.

A desirable, prolonged residential experience can engender a connection to the history of an undergraduate institution. A prolonged tenure in a desirable residence helps a university nurture a student’s lifelong connection to one’s peers and alma matter, which can yield a tight alumni network and high giving rate. In 1998, as part of his rejected master plan, Michael Sorkin, AB’69, proposed a residential College system for Chicago.

After a year in Henderson, I had the option to become an undergraduate member of Psi Upsilon. Psi U is a selective organization; membership demands one accept responsibilities and duties, the majority of which directly apply to the residential life of its members. As an initiate I studied the history of our house, organization, and University. As a resident I learned much about governance, compromise, and community. As an alumnus I feel an affection and allegiance to the house that continually strengthens my connection to the University.

It’s surprising, when depicting an experience that means much to many, that the Magazine did not send out photographer Dan Dry, who prolifically, intimately and effectively captures University life and relied on amateur snapshots lifted from the Internet. And it’s regrettable that as an undergraduate and presumably a resident in the dormitories Carrie Golus was not able to meet one representative of a group that encompasses 10 percent of the student body and still cannot speak to Greek-affiliated women in the College without being “freaked out.” Thankfully she is “less judgmental” now and can casually enjoy a shot of Jägermeister on the University’s dime. I look forward to meeting her someday at an alumni event.

Robert Peter Cuthbert, AB’01

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